In Oct. of 1902, John Earnest Candelet was sentenced to the Sockonosset School for Boys, where he was to spend his minority. He was 11 years old. The son of John Candelet and Mary (Crawford), his …
In Oct. of 1902, John Earnest Candelet was sentenced to the Sockonosset School for Boys, where he was to spend his minority. He was 11 years old. The son of John Candelet and Mary (Crawford), his mother had passed away two years earlier, on June 7. The 42-year-old woman had been ill from chronic medical conditions since 1897 and finally succumbed to kidney disease at 11:45 in the morning at the family's residence on Huntington Avenue in Providence.
John remained living at home with his 61-year-old father. A sibling, Margaret, had been born five years before John and died just after her first birthday. Older siblings included sister Caroline and brothers George and Robert who, like their father, toiled in the local woolen mills as weavers and lapper tenders.
On the night of Oct. 6, 1902, little John was sent out to rob a store. He was told that if he did not return with a bottle of Coca Cola, he would be whipped. Into the night the child walked, gaining entry to an Olneyville bakery at 3:45 the next morning. After he was caught, the response of the court system was to place him at an orphanage. He quickly made two separate successful attempts to run away from the facility and the court's next response was to place him at the state’s reform school for the next seven years. His father would die in 1905, before his release.
The difficult road that fate had placed such a young boy upon could have cast a dark cloud over his future. But he pushed it away. He grew into a handsome young man with reddish brown hair and blue-gray eyes, standing nearly six feet tall. By the age of 25, he was working as a jeweler in Attleboro, having married Madia Sevigne. He then entered the military where he served for two years before receiving an honorable discharge. With a position as a cook during World War I, he served in Battery E of the 55th Artillery.
John then became a police officer, a position he held until the late 1920s when he and his wife moved to Wallum Lake Sanitarium for tuberculosis patients in Burrillville. There, he had found employment as a chef at the institution while his wife filled the position of medical secretary and stenographer. The couple lived and worked there at the sanitarium for many years. John also served as manager of Wallum Lake's baseball team.
John made the most of an existence which began quite hopelessly. He passed away in Providence on July 2, 1958. He and his wife are buried in Pascoag Cemetery with their names engraved upon a marker that honors their lives and his military service. His mother, father and baby sister Margaret are buried in Pocasset Cemetery in Cranston. There are no names or dates on their stones. They are identified only by numbers: 1458, 1011 and 210.
Kelly Sullivan is a Rhode Island columnist, lecturer and author.
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